Blazing Ahead with Solar Power
The world’s fourth largest carbon emitter, India, is focussed on reducing its carbon emission intensity – emission per unit of GDP – by 33-35% from 2005 levels over 15 years, and is working towards producing 40% of its installed electricity capacity by 2030 from non-fossil fuels.
This makes the India also the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world, as per the Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index 2018. It is here that players like Aethon Energy will make a difference, working to solarise India. (Aethon is the Greek word for burning, blazing or shining).
Aethon Energy was founded in 2014 by Himandri Nandi, who holds postgraduate degrees in Electronics and Business Administration, and has been in the field of electronics and renewable energy for over 32 years. The company has been responsible for approximately 250 medium to large solar power plants with capacities ranging from 10KW to 10MW and 15,000 smaller solar power plants ranging from 1KW to 10KW. It has successfully solarised warehouses, cold storage units, educational institutions, hospitals, residences, office spaces and even entire industries, among other institutions. The firm is registered with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and has been accredited with solar power rating SP 1B by ICRA and CRISIL has rated it SP 2 B, both of which signify high performance capabilities. It has also received ISO 9000:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 certifications.
The company has been making efforts to popularise the use of solar photo-voltaic cells, batteries and inverters among smaller manufacturing plants that, unable to meet their energy requirements, have been closing down. Nandi encourages such plants to switch to solar power, emphasising that “The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) offers a subsidy that helps reduce the initial cost of installing the system, and the return on investment can be seen within just three years, with an increase in the plant’s efficiency and productivity.”
The firm has also partnered with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), to develop solar powered water pumps and water purifiers for farmers and plantation owners in parts of India with irregular power supply and sub-par irrigation facilities.
With a strong R&D team of 300 man-years of experience, Aethon has developed innovative products suiting various solar applications while also focusing on social responsibility. Currently, the team has developed Home Lighting Systems suitable for anganwadis (pre-school for toddlers and very young children) and for low income groups under the Soubhagya Scheme; a Government empowered program with the objective of electrifying 3.21 crore households in India that are still without electricity. The products that are manufactured by Aethon include solar PCUs, solar home lighting systems, solar street lights, energy efficient fans and LED street lights.
The company’s signature installation has been the legendary Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore. It is the first cricket stadium in the world to be powered by solar energy. A 400 KW grid interactive solar power plant has been installed in the roof of the stadium. As per the design, this grid can easily power the entire stadium’s lighting, with the sole exception of the massive, high-intensity floodlights. The firm prides itself on having completed the project in a short span of just 50 days.
Apart from this, Aethon has installed solar power plants at the Institute of Engineers, Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), Mahatma Gandhi University, Mother Hospital, Acharya Institute and the Kerala State Finance Corporation. Additionally, the company runs an awareness program to help citizens better understand solar power and its resourcefulness. Major contracts that set the firm apart include solarising government buildings, a wide range of ATMs and the anganwadis for children. The company counts Indian Oil, Tata, Jakson and other giants among its clients.
While accessing solar power is easy, storing and utilising it efficiently has always been a challenge. Aethon has, therefore, been focused on innovating solutions to these very problems. It is creating a 60,000 square feet infrastructure with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, India’s IT capital. Reminiscent of scientist Nikolai Tesla’s plans to provide unfettered access to energy for all citizens, this firm’s ambitious goal is to ‘commoditise’ solar power and make it freely available off the shelf. This is a gargantuan task, but the company believes it is up to the challenge.
As India looks to meet its energy demand independently – a demand which is expected to reach 15,820 TWh by 2040, renewable energy is set to play a key role in defining the country’s future.